Sunday, 9 May 2010

Iron Man 2 (*** three stars)

While Batman skulks around like Hamlet, Iron Man quaffs champagne with supermodels and has a lark. That’s close to how his movie franchise works as well. Once again Robert Downey Jr. stars as the industrialist Tony Stark, who snaps on his super-hi-tech-suit as the titular hero, in this sequel offering more of the same: its fast, funny and virtually angst free.

This time the Marvel character has revealed his identity to the world and is accompanied by a larger cast of heroes/villains and supporting babes in spandex. So, more plot lines. Villainous activity comes in two flavours. Grizzled Rusky, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has a family feud with Stark and quite fancies ripping him to pieces with the electrified whip-lashes which give him his alter ego name.

Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is a fellow sharp suited arms dealer, who wants Stark's career. Meanwhile the military, led by Garry Shandling's lemon-sucking senator Stern want access to Stark's weaponry. His curt reply reminds them: ‘I have privatised World Peace!’ On spandex duty is Scarlett Johansson as Natalia, a nubile polyglot who on presenting herself as an intern, prompts Tony to say lasciviously, "I want one." She has a secret herself, which will involve her kicking some buttock in action sequences far tamer than we've already seen in Kick-Ass.

At the centre of all this is Robert Downey Junior, again enjoying himself playing the cheeky rapscallion – in this one he gets a bit darker too, on account of the poison flowing from his artificial heart – and from champagne bottles. It’s a familiar comic book story, remember when Superman went all mean and scowly? Well Tony's darkness isn't dwelled on too much, there is some dodgy dancing and smashing up his billionaire home, then we have to get back to tie up various stories. Against him, Sam Rockwell is well cast and he gets many of the best lines, as well as a little dance bit which compares directly to Tony‘s own grandstanding.

Mickey Rourke basically plays The Wrestler in a Russian accent and whips people. Vanko is fearsome but he doesn’t have that much to do and his purpose is unclear, like he’s a wheeled in video game character.

I haven’t even mentioned Gyneth Paltrow, as Pepper Potts, Tony’s loyal P.A. who gets promoted in this story, both in the boardroom and in his affections. They squabble and she’s a bit more than Alfred the Butler to his Batman as in Iron Man. All in, there’s entertainment here, solid special effects and a decent quota of laughs, thanks to its director Jon Favreau whose background is in comedy.

Think of Tony Stark as MacGyver with an iPad and you’ll have fun.

My review of the first Iron man

[No mention of The Avengers from me admittedly. Comic book fans will know this movie is building up a Marvel universe of characters including Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury from both the Iron Man flicks, Thor and Captain America. If the villain is the Incredibly boring Hulk though: I’m not too excited..]

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